Mark Sussman

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Puppetry in Higher Learning : Colleges and Universities in the Northeast Region that offer Education Opportunities in Puppetry

Moderator: Homeslice (Eric Weiss), Northeast Regional Director

Bart Roccoberton- University of Connecicut
Kate Brehm – Harvard University
Dinaïg Stall – Université du Québec à Montréal
Mark Sussman – Concordia University
Lake Simons – Sara Lawrence College
Carol Fisher – University of New Hampshire

Mark Sussman is a theatre artist and scholar working on the animation of public space, material
dramaturgies, puppetry and object performance, and the integration of old and new technologies in live
performance. He began working with a number of companies and artists in the downtown theater scene
in New York, among them Mabou Mines, Janie Geiser, Ninth Street Theater, and Bread and Puppet
Theater. He earned MA and PhD degrees from the Department of Performance Studies at New York
University. He joined the Theatre faculty of Concordia University and moved to Montreal in 2005. He
teaches seminar courses in Performance Studies and studio courses in puppetry and object performance,
and advises graduate students in interdisciplinary MA and PhD programs. Prior to teaching at Concordia,
he has taught at New York University, Barnard College, Wesleyan University, California Institute for the
Arts, UQÀM (DESS en arts de la marionnette contemporarin), and the Parsons School of Design at the
New School.

Sussman is a founder and co-artistic director of Great Small Works, an OBIE and UNIMA/Jim Henson
Award-winning theatre collective based in New York City. Since 1995, Great Small Works has been
producing new theatre works on a variety of scales, from miniature toy theatre pieces using twodimensional cutouts and live montage, to giant parades, community processions, and circuses. The
company specializes in the reinvention of ancient, popular, and avant-garde performance techniques in
contemporary contexts, creating variety evenings, international festivals, and community-based projects
in addition to discrete performance works featuring puppets and objects. With Great Small Works, he was
artistic director for Bienvenue à Tourne-York, a large-scale outdoor carnival commissioned by the town of
Tournefeuille, France (2009). He has also worked as a performer, designer, and producer for the
company’s ten International Toy Theater Festivals (1991-2013). He has led many workshops in the form
of “toy” or “paper theatre,” most recently with Feminismo Communitario Antipatriarcal in La Paz, Bolivia
(2016) and with university students and museum educators from the Tainan region of Taiwan (2019).

In collaboration with Roberto Rossi of Great Small Works, he is at work on a two new performance
projects, one based on the writings of Robert Walser and another titled “Tales from the Anthropocene,”
which had its premiere at the Dukketeaterfetival, Bornholm, Denmark (2015.) In 2020, Great Small Works is working the next episode of their ongoing news serial, The Toy Theater of Terror As Usual.

Apart from Great Small Works, Sussman has collaborated with writer/director Allen S. Weiss, with whom
he created Theater of the Ears / Théâtre des Oreilles (CalArts/LaMama/CharlevilleMézières/Paris/Avignon, 1999-2001) and Danse Macabre, an installation-performance using dolls
created by Paris-based artist Michel Nedjar, at the Halle St. Pierre, Paris (2004) the In Transit Festival,
HKW, Berlin (2009).

In Montreal, he is the founder and member of the collective organizing Café Concret, a cabaret of
experimental puppetry and object-based performance, and a forum for new works in a variety of media.
The 39th edition of Café Concret took place, live and outdoors, at the Maison Internationale des Arts de la
Marionnette in Montreal in September, 2021. Online editions were streamed via Facebook and YouTube
during the pandemic year, 2020-21. The 40th edition is planned for December, 2021.

He is a member of the Artistic Committee of Casteliers, the organization devoted to producing and
diffusing the art of puppetry in Quebec and internationally; and in Fall, 2015 he joined the Board of
Directors of Montreal’s performance space and artist service organization Studio 303.

Sussman’s writing has appeared in TDR (The Drama Review), Connect, Stagebill, Cabinet, Radical
Street Performance (Routledge, 1999), and Puppets, Masks, and Performing Objects (MIT, 2001). His
article “Notes on New Model Theaters” can be found in The Routledge Companion to Puppetry and
Material Performance (2014). An updated essay on New York’s Circus Amok can be found in The
Routledge Circus Studies Reader (2016). In 2018-2020 he worked with the Café Concret collective
on Moving Parts: Articulated Bodies and Objects in Performance, a three-part performance
residency at Tangente, interdisciplinary symposium, and book project exploring the movement
vocabularies shared across the fields of puppetry and dance. The book, edited by Erin Hill, is available on
the Café Concret website.